Why the Brunch Culture Is More Than Just a Trend

Sabrina Plejdrup
4 min readFeb 5, 2018
“People Socialize Restaurant Eating Socializing” provided by Max Pixel Images on Max Pixel be freely distributed with a Creative Commons Zero — CC0.

Brunch represents more than just another millennial trend or even a meal; it represents a social experience.

Scrolling through Instagram on any weekend, you’d probably find a few people boasting their amazing avocado toast that has just the right filter or the infamous #mimosaswiththesquad picture. What is it about brunch that has made it such a coveted experience? I think it has to do with more than just the waffles and bloody marys.

This is not a passing fad. The Washington Post reports that the search term “brunch” has been growing ever since 2004.

And looking beyond this Instagram worthy meal is something much deeper than just a passing millennial trend. Brunch is a bonding ritual and a deep social pastime, which is reviving the art of conversation.

Even in a world where people are constantly connected to each other through social media, there is still a gap created by the human need for face-to-face conversation and connection, which can be filled by meeting with friends or catching up with your parents over brunch. This meal provides a deeper sense of belonging and connection because we are validated through hanging out with people. After all, humans are naturally social creatures who literally need human contact!

And yes, the younger crowd will use technology during this meal, but this doesn’t mean that they’re bypassing socializing with the people around them. They are merely commemorating the moment.

When this young generation does take a picture of brunch, it’s more about capturing a memory of the happiness and warmth experienced along with the meal. It’s even been proven that those who take pictures of their positive experiences from events are happier than those who did not.

Brunch is nothing new. The idea has become a mainstream staple since 1985 when a British author Guy Beringer wrote the article “Brunch: A Plea.”

Beringer argued for a meal between the regular times of breakfast and lunch on Sundays that would connect people to each other. Forget getting up early on Sunday and make “life brighter for Saturday-night carousers.”

For a college kid in Fort Collins, brunch could mean more than getting likes on the photo of a giant cinnamon roll. Brunch is a common meal to share while catching up with your parents who finally get to see your way of living as a college student, or going to brunch with your friends the next day after a wild Saturday night out. Brunch has even become very popular as an outing to cure your hangovers, which can be a bonding experience.

There is no denying the fact that college students are perpetually busy; between classes, jobs and extracurricular activities, it can be hard to find a time to relax and hang out with friends. This is where the ritual of brunch comes in: the new communal dining experience. Ultimately it is more about paying for the experience of socializing than the meal itself.

After all, this social experience can even strengthen relationships proving that your true friends aren’t always the ones you rage with, but the ones who go out to eat eggs and bacon with you the next day in spite of a massive hangover.

Then again, brunch has been wildly popular in college towns because it is linked to the drinking culture. This meal has paved the way for a new movement of morning cocktails. According to social media analytics by Crimson Hexagon, the term “Boozy brunch” is extremely popular in big cities and can be common in college towns.

Yes, brunch is catered more toward millennials but brunch is still multi-generational. It’s something that the old generation can share with the young generation. There is no fancy technology that has to be used to enjoy an omelette. Food is timeless and is something that we all have in common; we all have to eat.

“Church brunch” is still common where families gather after church to enjoy a meal together. The demographics of brunch show that there is still some kind of religious connection to the meal. These statistics show that there is a strong correlation between brunch and Jewish people.

According to the Washington Post article, not only are many popular brunch foods are Jewish, but many Jewish people see this meal as a way to gather outside of church. Some people have even deemed brunch the new church seeing as it is a social gathering that brings people together offering an alternate form of community every Sunday.

Now I know not everyone agrees that this meal is a positive food experience. There have been mixed feelings about brunch since its rise in popularity. The idea of brunch has been intrinsically linked to class. Eating out is expensive and meals like brunch only magnify the divisive nature of eating out and the class inequalities associated with affording to dine out.

Despite brunch being considered a money grab, younger generations still make it a habit to go and find a way to pay for weekly brunches at places like The Waffle Lab because they are paying for the time spent with friends, not just the food. It is the social aspect that millennials sacrifice spending their small wages on.

The social aspect of brunch is also seen as “basic” and is an annoyance to many who battle for peace and quiet during their meal and find that it is being overrun by millennials “following a trend.”

But despite all of the negativity, brunch is not just any meal, it is an overall positive experience that brings people together and provides the missing face-to-face interaction that we so desperately need in this technologically driven culture.

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